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DUT Drama Production Highlights Gender Equality Through Shakespearean Play

DUT Drama Production Highlights Gender Equality Through Shakespearean Play

The Durban University of Technology’s Professor Debbie Lutge and 12 Drama and Production studies students are ready to deliver their performance in the production: The Taming of the Shrew, which takes place at the Courtyard Theatre from 14 to 17 March 2018.

The play is directed by Prof Lutge and has three founders and organisers: Professor Hanns Dietrich Schmidt, Professor Brian Michaels and Ms Susanne Skipiol, who selected the play.

According to Prof Lutge, each director is from a different part of the world, they then assemble a cast of highly focused creative artists and all the casts watch each other prior to the merger.

Every two years, the Folkwang Shakespeare Festival invites three partner countries to mount a show for presentation in their substantial theatre.

“Each mounts a national interpretation followed by an exciting, collaborative and international performance where 48 young students join to deconstruct a fusion Shakespeare around a loose scenario that has been negotiated under four directors. The work is multilingual and the experience is innovative. This ground-breaking platform selects partners who make the honour of presenting and being the first African director to be included, even more special,” she said excitedly.

Professor Luge said that this year, 2018, The Taming of the Shrewelicited many discussions on gender and echoed a response to gender perceptions within a culture.

“There are 12 members per international cast with our second and third year DUT students working on our South African Shakespeare while graduates also remain involved. We decided in this production which is centred on gender equality to invoke our ancestors to journey with us on this prestigious journey so we commence with a ritual invocation, and we move in a consequential timeline through the play,” she added.

In 2016, Prof Luge and the DUT Drama and Production students travelled to Essen-Werden in Germany to perform Much Ado About Nothing and joined productions from Krakow Poland; Melbourne Australia; Germany and Durban. It was the first production from Africa to participate in such an international Shakespeare project. They performed at the Wolkwang Shakespeare Festival to which participants must be invited to produce collaborative art.

The cast for  2018 production include talents of Masintle Mokeone (seamstress extraordinaire), KwenzoKuhle Ngcobo (visionary Assistant Director); Celestia Mpanza (bridging text rhythms and creative design as Musical Director) and choreographer Mdu Mtshali (former graduate and current colleague), Malusi Mkhonza (consultant); and Mthandazo Mofokeng (lighting design). All collaborate to bring together an extraordinary production under Professor Lutge’s guidance as director.

“As a director, I have embraced this journey and the joy of sharing in this cultural discovery. The challenge of course in this play remains the embedded gender dynamics and overcoming an endorsement of entrenched traditional values that may be perceived to be anti-gender equality,” stressed Prof Lutge.

Two of the festival founders Professor Brian Michaels and Ms Susanne Skipiol will be at DUT from 2 to 5 April 2018, to brief students on the Folkwang Shakespeare Festival and to preview the show.

Pictured: The Taming of the Shrew, which takes place at the Courtyard Theatre from 14 to 17 March 2018.

Waheeda Peters

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